A leading Brexiter has attacked David Cameron’s decision to call last year’s “vacuous” EU referendum.
Labour’s Gisela Stuart, who was in a minority of the party’s MPs who backed Leave, said the vote last year was “not good democracy” because no one in Government had been ready to implement a vote to leave and the groups that campaigned for it were immediately disbanded.
When asked whether she would have preferred Cameron had not called the referendum, she said: “Yup.”
Her comments come as Theresa May was in Brussels for an EU summit, on the referendum’s first anniversary, at which she said EU citizens already in Britain could remain after Brexit but EU Council president Donald Tusk called her offer “below our expectations”.
German-born Stuart, who stood down as MP for Birmingham Edgbaston in the snap general election, said there should have been a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty instead, when it was being ratified.
She said: “At that moment, we would have had clear questions. So it wasn’t a question of one side or the other coming at each other with threats. You would have had a clear body.
“‘This is the text, this is what happens now, you can have this or you can have that’. But Cameron just threw this vacuous question into the air.”
The question in the referendum only gave voters two options - remain in the EU or leave.
Stuart said she still believed leaving the EU was the right thing to do.
When asked whether Cameron should have called the referendum, she said: “No. The way he called that referendum was an abuse of democratic processes. It really was.
“I’ve never gone through a voting process where the losers demand of the winners that they explain themselves. This is what happened with the referendum, because you had a binary question.
“You had no bodies accountable for an outcome. This notion that you can create these campaigning groups that aren’t established political parties.
“Immediately after the referendum with Vote Leave, we resigned as directors and the whole thing was shut down. And that’s not good democracy.”
Stuart has previously been criticised for saying EU citizens in Britain had been “left in limbo” after Brexit but then voting against the amendment to the Brexit bill that would have guaranteed their right to stay here.
She told The Independent: “This was not the Bill to deal with this, that is why I voted against all amendments. Last night was about implementing the referendum decision”.